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What type of Exercise is best?

Which Exercise is best???

Everyone has their own unique opinion on this subject. From the Marathon lovers to the shirt splitting Gym buffs…but who is right?

There’s always a pause when I am asked this question at any gathering before I tell people “All of them…but none of them”. People then mostly slink away convinced that I am a charlatan who knows very little about exercise purely as I didn’t agree with them. With over 30 years training behind me, at M.A.S.K. Personal Training, we can honestly say that THE very best exercise of all, be it for weight loss, general fitness, cardiovascular health etc, is a combination of exercise “Types”, not individual activities.

Let’s look at my rationale by briefly looking at just a few types of exercise:

1) Aerobic/Cardiovascular exercise. Typically this is your continuous steady state exercise e.g. running, cycling, swimming. Great for cardiovascular health, weight loss, blood lipid profile. However NOT always great for posture, impact injuries, muscular strength & size, flexibility.

2) Resistance Training – Bodyweight, TRX & Weight lifting are great examples. Awesome for all round conditioning, muscular strength, endurance and size, fat burning & movement. Depending on HOW it is done, not always best for stamina, cardiovascular benefits nor flexibility.

3) Yoga/Pilates – Excellent for flexibility, core stability, stress reduction and breathing mechanics. Despite claims from practitioners, they actually do very little for absolute strength, nor anaerobic endurance. Be weary of claims re postural correction.

4) Movement based – e.g. Martial Arts, Dance, Gymnastics. Excellent for nervous system integration for whole body movement. Can be hugely beneficial in all aspects of fitness if instructed correctly. Downside is that often technical teaching is lacking leading to poor movement recruitment patterns which can result in posture misalignment & injury.

5) Group exercise classes – Can help improve cardiovascular health, endurance, strength & endurance and help weight loss in a motivated environment. Downside is you are doing the same as everyone else, hence it may not be specific for you. Also, in large groups, peoples exercise technique really suffers which may lead to injury.

So…here’s the thing…no one enjoys exercise types that they are not really suited to!!!!!

For example, when did you last see a hugely inflexible body builder in a Yoga class??? Whilst I’m certain that it has happened somewhere at sometime, typically it is not the “norm”. Likewise, tall very lean, extremely flexible people who are not that strong aren’t often found in weight rooms grunting along with strongmen.

For those of you who enjoy long distance running or cycling…try to imagine if every step or rotation of the pedal was an absolute chore, that your lungs felt ready to burst and that this never got any easier, would you have stuck with it?

As a species we all tend to migrate towards what we enjoy, what gives us pleasure. This USUALLY means an exercise type that we are at least moderately good at, and something whereby we can see or at least feel genuine improvement for the effort that we put in.

As humans we now live in a technologically driven age where our bodies are now used and stressed in a manner, so far removed from natures design, that inevitably injuries often occur.

Statistics show that a staggering 8.9 million work days were lost during 2016/17 in the UK due to musculo-skeletal injuries. That’s a huge amount of loss to the UK economy, and a lot of pain to UK residents.

You could then ask, is it wise for Mrs Smith who sits at her desk for 6/7 hours per day to take part in an indoor cycling class 2/3 times per week, further tightening muscles around her upper legs and abdominal region that have been tightened all day long whilst sitting? In my opinion…NO! Or, Yes if she diligently uses a foam roller and stretches on a daily basis.

To me, exercise should be about balance. Getting the right balance and stimulus from many different sources whilst ensuring that your lifestyle & nutritional habits are taken in to consideration.

Getting aerobic/cardiovascular exercise at least 2-3 times per week for 20 mins or more, stretching gently at home most days, performing resistance and core work for at least 10-15 minutes 2-3 days per week, and walking around 5000 steps per day most days.

Whilst I fully accept that what I propose may be daunting for some, my advice to those who don’t currently exercise is not to attempt this all at once.

Start with just 1 new exercise type. Set yourself that goal. 2000 steps per day. Do this for 7 days then increase to 2500 or even 3000. Increase this up to 5000 steps per week then try something new in addition to walking. For example, join in that bootcamp class that you’ve been meaning to try. If you don’t enjoy it…don’t dispair, keep on with the walking and have a go at a Martial Arts of Dance class. There will be something out there for you!

Over time, gently step up your game so that you are active on more days per week than you are sedentary and I promise, you will look and feel so much better.

M.A.S.K. Personal Training

One of the main reasons that most peoples New Year’s resolutions are now but a distant memory is because with good faith most people take on too much at once. If you try to go from zero exercise to exercising like an Olympian whilst converting to a whole new way of eating, it’s simply way too much for you to cope with, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Introducing small habits works miracles in the long term. Each habit is like planting a new seed which when nurtured will grow. The very best time to start that new habit is today.

Try involving loved ones, family bike rides, group exercise…anything that keeps you motivated.

Stuck for ideas? Drop us an email we’ll be glad to give you some pointers for free!

If I can be of any further help…Just ask!

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